How Much Can I Expect to Receive in Social Security Disability Benefits

Disabilty Benefits
If you’re disabled, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability income (SSDI or SSD) benefits. You may want to know how much you can expect to receive in SSDI benefits. The amount of your monthly Social Security disability benefits depends on SSA’s calculation of your average lifetime earnings prior to the time your disability began.

SSDI isn’t based on the severity of a disability or your previous earned income as an employee. According to Social Security Administration (SSA), the average SSDI recipient earned USD 1,166 per month (2016). The maximum SSDI monthly check is USD 2,639 per month (2016).

If you’re receiving disability income from private insurance or your employer’s group disability policy, the amount of your SSDI payment may be less.

Social Security Disability Payment Calculation

Each eligible disabled person receives a different amount of SSDI from Social Security. The amount of your SSDI payment will differ from that of another Social Security disability income recipient. SSA’s proprietary benefits payment model for SSDI is complex. Read more about the SSDI application process here.

SSDI benefits are based upon the amount of Social Security taxes you’ve paid into Social Security during your work years. SSA calls this amount covered earnings:

  • Average indexed monthly earnings, or AIME, is a calculation of covered earnings recorded over a period of time.
  • AIME is used to calculate the primary insurance amount, or PIA. This is the base figure upon which SSA establishes your disability benefit income amount. SSA’s formula uses fixed percentages of income at bend points, adjusted each year the Social Security beneficiary pays Social Security taxes.
  • In 2016, 90 percent of the first-earned AIME amount of USD 856 is added to PIA. Then, SSA computes 32 percent of AIME (USD 856-5,157) plus 15 percent of the amount of AIME exceeding USD 5,157 and adds 15 percent of AIME exceeding USD 5,157. The calculation result is your PIA.

Social Security Earnings History

It’s important to check Social Security earnings history at the my HYPERLINK “” Social Security Account page at least once each year. Although SSA mails a hard copy statement every five years if you aren’t receiving Social Security benefits (or annually if you’re older than 60 years), you should check the information as often as necessary online.

You can also use handy calculators on the website to input current salary information and any private disability payments you receive, such as those from a disability insurance policy. The Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST) can help you learn what disability benefits you may be eligible to receive. If you need additional assistance, contact SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to speak to a representative or contact your local SSA office.

Other Disability Payments

Some beneficiaries may already receive disability payments from private short-term or long-term disability insurance policies. Private disability insurance payments won’t reduce SSDI benefits.

However, if you’re receiving certain government-administered disability benefits, such as temporary state disability in certain states or workers compensation benefits, these payments may affect SSDI benefits.

For instance, if your government-regulated payments and SSDI equal an amount that’s greater than 80 percent of the amount you earned per month before you became disabled, Social Security (or the other disability-related payments) will be reduced.

If you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Veterans Administration (VA) benefits, these payments won’t reduce SSDI benefits.

Social Security Disability Backpay

Social Security disability income claims’ review includes a painstaking process. The claimant’s medical records and documentation are evaluated by multiple SSA disability claims professionals. SSDI claims take a lot of time to process.

In almost every instance when a beneficiary is awarded SSDI (or SSI) benefits based upon disability, he or she receives disability backpay, or disability benefits paid on a past-due basis.

SSA pays backpay to those who are eligible for SSDI. How much SSDI backpay you’ll receive depends on the amount of your SSDI monthly payment.
SSA calculates backpay according to when you applied for SSDI and an established onset date of the disability. If you applied for SSDI in the past but were denied, SSA may agree to give backpay to the prior date of application for SSDI.

SSDI Application Date

The application date on your SSDI claim determines when SSDI payments start if you are eligible to receive them. SSDI applicants are eligible to receive payments back to the application date and, in some instances, may be eligible for retroactive benefit payments for the year prior to the application date. The year is called the retroactive period.

If you already receive Social Security Supplemental Income, you may receive backpay to the first day of the month on which you filed for SSDI payments.

Date of Disability Onset

The date on which SSA considers the onset of your disability is called the date of disability. When you apply for SSDI, you’re required to state when you believe the disability began. This date is called the alleged onset date, or AOD by Social Security.

If you’re approved for SSDI, you’re given an established onset set, or EOD. A Disability examiner or, in some cases, a Social Security Administrative Law Judge considers the date when your disability began. EOD is based on your work history and medical files presented to SSA.

Waiting Period

A third factor applies to SSDI benefits. A five-month waiting period is established after the claimant is approved for SSDI payments. At that time, Social Security removes five months of payments from the established beginning of the disability. The date of entitlement, or the date on which the beneficiary receives payments, begins five months after EOD.

In other words, if the Social Security disability examiner or Administrative Judge believes the EOD is 17 months before the application date, the beneficiary is entitled to 12 months’ retroactive pay before the SSDI application date.